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[00:00:02]

This is a story about friendship with this time that was occurring and was unmistakable and we were best friends, a friendship that bloomed during the hot summer of 1979 when a famous doctor named Jeffrey MacDonald and when he left here for Barbe level, he met a famous journalist.

[00:00:21]

Ladies and gentlemen, will you welcome, please, Joe McGinniss.

[00:00:23]

Joe McGinniss named Joe McGinniss. I like Joe. We talked about the same things in the New York Knicks, the Yankees and the Mets football, two friends who would go jogging together. And this was the beginning of the running room. And, you know, you sort of get this camaraderie after a while.

[00:00:39]

That summer, they did just about everything together. We drank together.

[00:00:43]

I mean, we can be classy, but a routine of all kinds.

[00:00:48]

And with all this time together, Jeff and Joe hatched a plan. You see, Jeff have been accused of a horrible crime reporter.

[00:00:54]

Joe McGinniss spent three years investigating Jeff MacDonald, who granted him total access. And Joe was going to prove him innocent so that McGinniss might write the definitive book about it. It is called Fatal Vision. But unfortunately, McGinniss summarizes for us his stunning conclusion.

[00:01:08]

It didn't turn out that way.

[00:01:10]

All I'm saying is that Jeffrey MacDonald beat and stabbed to death his pregnant wife and his two young daughters.

[00:01:17]

It was one of those sensational crimes that attracted nationwide attention.

[00:01:21]

I was the first to enter the MacDonald. Some bizarre murders took place last night. There were things you'll never forget. The wife and two young daughters, Jeffrey MacDonald, were stabbed to death.

[00:01:31]

At first I thought it was a homicide suicide. Then he started to move. The truth is going to come out. I did not kill my wife. I did not kill my children.

[00:01:38]

And that's going to come out in a court of law today, a jury convicted Dr Jeffrey MacDonald for murdering his wife and two children. MacDonald was sentenced to three life terms in prison. We still, at that point, have this hope that we hadn't been incorrect on Joe, that he was going to write a good book. This book became, you know, some kind of vindication. Exactly.

[00:01:59]

Joe McGinniss has woven MacDonald's story into a book called Fatal Vision. Joe's book, Fatal Vision didn't just say that Jeffrey MacDonald had killed his wife and children.

[00:02:07]

You uncovered some facts that even the prosecution didn't. The book had drugs make. There's no question there's a possibility that I took the pill at speed and sex. Jeffrey MacDonald had 17 mistresses. He was a slut. What does it have to do with whether a committed triple homicide, Fatal Vision, became a huge hit?

[00:02:26]

I can never overcome a fatal vision and Jeff's worst nightmare. I cannot prove that I am not that monster.

[00:02:33]

But for Joe McGinniss, you did this with the cooperation of Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald, questions about his journalistic ethics.

[00:02:39]

Should you have told him that you had found him in your own heart of hearts, guilty?

[00:02:43]

Who made the book his worst nightmare to there's no reason to confront him.

[00:02:47]

The job of a writer is to write the book was the real villain a fatal vision?

[00:02:51]

Its protagonist, Jeffrey MacDonald's a psychopath. He has no remorse, no conscience or its author.

[00:02:57]

He was going to my mother who was dying and saying, don't worry. When the book comes out, this will all be righted.

[00:03:03]

For Joe, getting close to Jeff was a necessary evil.

[00:03:06]

My only ambition was to learn the truth and then to tell it, but had even found the truth.

[00:03:12]

A federal appeals court today reversed the murder convictions of Jeffrey MacDonald in the slayings of his pregnant wife and two young daughters.

[00:03:20]

Is what Joe McGinniss did morally indefensible? That's what I want to find out. I'm Mark Smerling from The Jinx in Crime Town, and this is my new podcast, Morally Indefensible. This season, we'll take a close look at the friendship between a true crime writer and a convicted killer and the book that ruined both their lives.

[00:03:39]

Either this is the most horrible, merciless, brutal killer on the face of the Earth or one of the most victimized men in American legal history.

[00:03:47]

Morally indefensible is presented by Effect's Network's new docu series, A Wilderness of Error, and will be coming soon to Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcast.